News

New Book in PSBA Exhibition in Tacoma

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Can’t wait to head to Tacoma this summer to take in the Puget Sound Book Artists (PSBA) 4th Annual Members’ Exhibition. This exciting show includes my most recent book, Anything Helps. Being a huge fan of the PSBA, I am green with envy at the community that has formed amongst PSBA members in the Tacoma/Seattle/Olympia area. This organization has it all: an active membership, an organized board, regular events and exhibitions, workshops and a super supportive and nurturing leader in Jane Carlin, the library director at the Univeristy of Puget Sound, who was the driving force behind the founding of this organization.

The fourth annual members’ exhibit will be held at Collins Memorial Library on the University of Puget Sound campus located in Tacoma, Washington. The exhibit features 57 handmade books by 39 artists from the Puget Sound area and beyond. Exhibition dates:  June 5 – July 31, 2014. If you are a fan of the book arts you should stop in and see this show soon!

Click here to learn more about the PSBA and become a member soon.

Cornered Folded Form Exchange

Cornered

In early January I attended the College Book Arts Association conference in Salt Lake City and wow(!) what an experience. It was the most amazing weekend of old friends, new connections and copious inspiration. A heartfelt thank you to the Utah band of conference organizers, including the ever-amazing Marnie Powers-Torrey, who all flawlessly pulled off a fantastic event.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the Cornered Folded Form Exchange. Each participating artist sent in 33 copies of a folded form. The fine folks in Utah then assembled a packet for each participant containing 30 pieces from other artists. They also created a gorgeous box to hold all of these goodies.

My box contains fantastic folded forms by such stellar artists as: Julie Chen, Macy Chadwick, Chip Schilling, Jeff Rathermel, Mare Blocker, Nanette Wylde, Jessica Spring, Peter and Donna Thomas, Marnie Powers-Torrey, Rebecca Childers and many more very talented artists who are new to my eyes.

My own contribution was a very fun maze book that uses letters from vintage Las Vegas neon signs to spell out, “Go to your studio and make something” when you fold the maze our flat. If you are reading this, send me an email and I will send you a free copy of my little marvel.

Thanks again to all my Cornered friends!

Laura

Found Street Art

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted any news. So sorry for such a long time away! Must get back into the habit of being an artist again. This work of found street art was great inspiration to do just that.

Last week I attended a meeting of our local Portland Book Arts Guild. We had an assignment based on a selection of cards from Barb Tetenbaum and Julie Chen’s Ideation Cards. The book that I made for that assignment came from this piece of street art that I found pasted to an electrical box in Bellingham, Washington a few years ago. I have no idea who the artist was who created this terrific “pasteup.”  A pasteup is a printed or photo copied sheet of paper that is glued to a traffic pole, building or perhaps an electrical box that often contains some political or artistic message or original art by the usually unknown artist.

This particular pasteup titled, “FOGY, SAVIOR, BURDEN, MENTOR” was four sheets of 8.5 x 11 inch photo copies attached to an electrical box with duct tape. The four panels show a progressively growing portrait created by rubber stamping a new word on each panel. The first panel at the top left uses only the word “FOGY.” The second panel a the top adds the word “SAVIOR” and so on. The resulting portrait image is a haunting face of an old person.

For our assignment I used this pasteup to make a small booklet made from one sheet of paper. The front side contains the image you see at right and the back side of the sheet contains the final fourth panel blown up large enough to fill the entire sheet of paper. A simple slit and two folds made it into a small booklet.

If you are reading this blog post and you send me an email I will send you a copy of this powerful little booklet just for the asking. Find my email address on my contact page. Send me your address and I’ll send you a book.

Take care,

Laura

 

Thinking of a FEAST!

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I’ve been thinking of food a lot lately as we prepare to open a big new juried exhibition at 23 Sandy called FEAST! This show is all about food and book art and has some mouth-watering books! My own book for the show is still floating in the air between my ears and hopefully will get out before the opening on May 10th. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at what’s percolating.

Cross your fingers for progress soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denver’s Month of Photography

All Sinners Welcome by Laura Russell

As you may know I spent nearly 20 years in Denver. It was a terrific city for me. I loved exploring the desert southwest and really miss the clear blue skies and sunshine. I even met the man of my dreams in the Mile High City. Through April 6 my artwork is back in Denver. My new book, All Sinners Welcome is happily included in Photo Book Works, a national juried exhibition at Abecedarian Gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District. Denver’s Month of Photography is a new event since I left town 10 years ago in June (wow, how time flies!). I wish I could be there to see so many old friends and their fantastic photography. If you happen to be in Denver during the show, please stop by and say hello to Alicia at Abecedarian Gallery. Or, read her blog post about the show here.

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Pages Reign for Al Mutanabbi

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Recently, I had the great honor of participating in The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition,  a global book arts’ response to the car bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad on March 5, 2007.

Beau Beausoleil founded this amazing project as a call to book artists to react to this horrific event. “On March 5th 2007, a car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. Al-Mutanabbi Street is in a mixed Shia-Sunni area. More than 30 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. Al-Mutanabbi Street, the historic center of Baghdad bookselling, holds bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and even tea and tobacco shops. It has been the heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community.” Beau teamed up with the also-amazing Sarah Bodman in asking book artists to join the project and further enhance the work of the Coalition by creating work that holds both “memory and future,” exactly what was lost that day. You can learn more about the project here.

My book for this project is titled Pages Reign. It is a miniature painted book (meaning that it is 3 x 3 x 3 inches or less) created in an edition of just four copies. Three are being sent to the project and one for my own archives.

Here’s the text of the poem that I wrote for this book:

When pages reign, freedom reigns.
When pages reign, thought reigns.
When pages reign, words reign.
Words spread. Pages fly.
Freedom rings.

When pages rain, freedom dies.
Bombs blare. Children fear.
Words collide.

When pages rise again, hearts rise.
Freedom rises.
Thought rises.
Words rise.

Pages reign. Pages rise.

Thank you Beau and Sarah and all of the other artists who participated in this project, cheered each other on and created a heart-warming tribute to so many lives and freedoms that were cut much too short.

Back in Business!

Hacked!


Whew! It’s been a while. Sadly and maddeningly my web site got hacked back in November. Then, I was just too busy with the gallery to get it fixed. Finally, last week, I called in the big guns. Thanks to my amazingly talented WordPress guru, Marshall, this site is now rested, restored and happily functioning again. From here on out I promise to practice safe WordPressing and to update this blog more often. Thank you for your patience while things were down. So grateful to be back.

Big Foot, Big Men and Pleasant Pellets!


A quick teaser shot of my newest in-progress book documenting Highway 99, which runs through the entire state of Oregon. This new book will be on exhibit in Denver very soon. In fact, it needs to ship next week.

This book is volume two of my Hit The Road series covering Highway 99, which runs all the way from Canada to Mexico. The first volume, which you can see here, covered the state of Washington, this one is Oregon and California is due up next. Now, that will be one loooong road trip!

Have a good day,

Laura

 

 

DIY: Photographers & Books at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Bless This House: Print on Demand Version Cover

I am thrilled that my print on demand book, Bless This House was selected for inclusion in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s exhibition, DIY: Photographers & Books. It is a huge honor to have my work included with so many of my photography idols including Martin Parr, Stephen Shore, Daido Moriyama, Joachim Schmid, Kirk Crippens, and Larry Fink. Also included are two 23 Sandy artists, Bea Nettles and Heidi Neilson. This exhibition is on view now through December 30, 2012. Stop by if you happen to be in the Cleveland area.

Bless this House is a photography project created with Nicole Bowmer documenting the destruction of three trailer parks in Beaverton, Oregon during the depths of the recession. It was a heart-wrenching project to work on for both of us as we watched 247 families lose their homes.

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s exhibition web site says:

A new golden age of the photobook has dawned, thanks to digital printing technology and web-based distribution services that allow rapid, inexpensive production of books in quantities from one copy to thousands. This exhibition is the first museum show to focus on the impact of print-on-demand publishing on contemporary photographic practice. Instead of images on the wall, the room will be dominated by a long table where a visual banquet of more than 100 photobooks will await the visitor. Several examples of historic and unique books will be in cases, but for most of the volumes, touching, reading, and re-reading will be encouraged. The books will be by regional, national, and international artists. Plans include a computer station where visitors can try their own hand at producing a photobook.

See a roster of the books included in the show here.

Or, purchase a print on demand catalog of the show here.

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Poety as Lubricant

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “poetry as lubricant.” Sitting down to write a poem is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Some people journal or write morning pages (as in The Artist’s Way). I like to start a fresh studio day with a poem to clear the decks, leave the to-do list behind and go deep inside myself. Focus. Clarify. Meditate on words.

A few years ago I took a poetry class through Portland Community College. It was an eye opener for this former word-phobic artist. I will never think of myself as a writer or a poet, but writing words is no longer a dreaded chore. For this class assignment the teacher asked the class to look around the classroom and call out the names of three objects in the room. The first three words called out were: baseball, mascara, crayons. Now go make a poem that uses those three words. Here’s what I came up with during that class:

Urban Decay by Laura Russell

Urban Decay © Laura Russell. Click on this photo to see a larger image. Note the baby crib inside the front door.

Urban Decay

There, on the porch of the pink one,
the sun shines through the stained glass,
red like a ruby.

There, on the porch of the brown one,
a baseball left behind as they
rush into night, mascara-smeared faces
dripping like soft fruit in a juicer.

No more crayons, no more trains,
no more baby cribs. It’s all gone.

Gone. The soul of these houses
as they burn, smoke pouring from
the windows and doors.

Gone. Soon. The doors and windows
and pipes and siding, all stripped,
all sold. Gone.

How much more can we stand?
How much longer can these empty shells stand?

How can you stand to just drive by
when the future of your factory town is gone.

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This poem ended up one of two in my Urban Decay artist book, which is about my home town of Saginaw, Michigan. You can see more images from this book here.

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